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A Day for Heroes

Impersonators will bring U.S. history lesson to Glendale Central Library.

May 14, 1999|RICHARD KAHLENBERG | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

This Sunday afternoon at Glendale Central Library visitors will have a chance to chat with Benjamin Franklin, Jackie Robinson and Pocahontas.

The occasion is the third annual American Heroes Day sponsored by the Friends of the Glendale Public Library.

Dozens of costumed volunteers will be in character for the day--from Betsy Ross to Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr., as well as Californians Cesar Chavez, Gen. George Patton and Amelia Earhart.

Set up on the library's park grounds will be historical encampments of Revolutionary War Minutemen, Chinese workers who built the transcontinental railroad, Confederate soldiers, vaqueros from early California, a silent-movie crew on location and Gold Rush-era miners.

Event chairman Nancy Hathaway hopes children will come away with a greater appreciation for U.S. history.

"We believe we can open their eyes to moments in history which build optimism for the future and convey the conviction that with effort they can achieve personal excellence," Hathaway said recently.

A three-man unit from a military history group that portrays the 10th U.S. Cavalry Company H, known as "Buffalo Soldiers," will conduct the noon flag-raising ceremony and remain "on duty" for the afternoon to take questions from visitors.

Company H was composed of African Americans who served in the U.S. Cavalry after their liberation from slavery in the South.

The East Valley-based group, which has a dozen members, presents living-history events several times a month at local schools and service organizations, said founder John Mapp.

"The most touching reaction we get from middle school kids is that they wonder why they don't read about Buffalo Soldiers in school," he said.

Mapp, a neonatologist at Glendale Adventist Hospital, has immersed himself in the history of the settlement of the West. At various times during that period, up to a third of the soldiers assigned to duty in the West were African American, he said.

But, he noted, "their descendants did not write the textbooks."

During the noon to 4 p.m. event, visitors will be able to add their signatures to a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence, enjoy free cake and refreshments and buy historical souvenirs.

Admission is $1 for students and $3 for adults. For more information, call (818) 546-2538 or (818) 548-2035.

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